Saturday, May 10, 2014

Preble County Attorney found guilty of theft from elderly, disabled adults

BROOKVILLE - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that a Preble County attorney has been found guilty of stealing money from multiple elderly or disabled residents while working as the guardian of their estates.

James Thomas Jr., 38, of Brookville, pleaded no contest to a bill of information this morning charging him with three counts of theft from an elderly person or disabled adult and three counts of falsification. After accepting the no contest plea, visiting Judge Neal Bronson found him guilty of the charges.

The charges were filed after an investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) found that Thomas took more than $208,000 from four victims’ bank accounts between 2007 and 2013.

The victims, who range in age from 41-72, are all Preble County residents.

“As guardian of their estates, it was this defendant’s job to protect these individuals from financial exploitation, but the investigation found that he regularly used their bank accounts as his personal ATM,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Those who prey on Ohio’s vulnerable citizens should be on notice that we will do everything we can to protect our elderly and disabled citizens from those who take advantage of them.”

The falsification charges relate to the filing of false documents associated with the guardianships in Preble County probate court.

The case is being prosecuted by Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section. Investigators with the Preble County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.

Thomas will be sentenced on June 17.

A copy of the bill of information filed in this case can be found on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

Full Article & Source:
Preble County Attorney found guilty of theft from elderly, disabled adults

Columbia County judge resigns over misconduct allegations

A Columbia County magistrate judge resigned his office Thursday amid allegations that he had behaved inappropriately toward women he had encountered as a guardian ad litem, officials said.
Doug Nelson, who had been a magistrate judge since 2007, submitted his resignation at the Evans courthouse, said Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Jason Troiano. It was effective immediately, Troiano said.

Nelson had been notified earlier Thursday that Troiano had taken him off the court calendar and intended to refer him to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Com­mission.

“While it is inappropriate to comment on the matter, I take the allegations very seriously,” Troiano said in a statement. “The integrity of Columbia County Magistrate Court and the judicial process are of utmost concern.”

At least two women have accused Nelson of inappropriate remarks and touching while serving as a court-appointed guardian ad litem

in their divorce cases, court officials said.

Tina Wright, of Grovetown, filed a report with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office on April 23 accusing Nelson of grabbing her when they met to discuss her custody case in May 2011. Wright told police she and Nelson met at McDonald’s on Columbia Road, and at the end of the meeting he grabbed her into a close hug and stroked her back, making her uncomfortable, according to the report.

Full Article & Source:
Columbia County judge resigns over misconduct allegations

Comment left at end of article:  

DMN 05/01/14 - 06:52 pm

Clarification for Douglas Merlin Nelson

The allegations in this article concerning Doug Nelson should not be confused with the Douglas Merlin Nelson who has practiced law at 204 Thirteenth Street, Augusta, Georgia for over 18 years. Douglas Merlin Nelson is well respected and has an excellent reputation.

Caregiver Accused Of Abusing Patient After Potato Chip Argument

(Memphis) A caregiver is out of jail on $100 bond after police said he abused a person he was supposed to take care of.

The abuse sent a mentally disabled man to the doctor with cuts on his face, arms, and hands.

It all started with an argument over a snack that quickly got out of control.

Justin Holmes was paid to take care of a man who couldn’t take care of himself.

The patient is diagnosed with a long list of illnesses, including everything form schizophrenia to specific type of liver disease.

Holmes worked on the job for at least a year, but things took a turn last month.

“I was horrified. That’s pretty, that’s unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable,” Kimberly Largue said.

Largue sat in her car on Wednesday with her head down in disgust after hearing what happened to her neighbor.

Holmes is accused of beating the mentally disabled man.

“There’s a special place in Hades for folks who would abuse those that are disabled,” Largue said.

According to the police report, Holmes sat on top of the victim and hit him in the face three times with his fists.

The co-worker who broke things up said it all started with a disagreement.

“That’s horrible, that’s absolutely horrible,” said Largue.

The entire argument started over a bag of potato chips, according to the police report.

“A person who can’t handle that kind of situation shouldn’t even be placed in a care giver situation,” Largue said.

The company he worked for, Resources For Human Development, agreed.

A spokesperson said Holmes does not work for the company anymore.

However, the company would not talk about the victim because of federal privacy laws.

“Due to HIPAA regulations, RHD cannot comment at this time,” RHD Communications Manager Kevin Roberts said in a statement.

WREG went to Holmes’ house for his side of the story, but no one answered the door.

Largue said she hopes he does not have the chance to strike again.

“Absolutely not back in the position to take care of someone disabled again,” she said.

Holmes is expected in court Thursday morning.

Full Article & Source:
Caregiver Accused Of Abusing Patient After Potato Chip Argument

Friday, May 9, 2014

Laurie Roberts Honors Marie Long: Probate Victim Spoke Softly But Was Heard

The first time I saw her, she was in a nursing home for welfare cases. She was sitting in a reclining chair in a drab common area, staring into space as the smell of urine and ammonia wafted through the room.

It was a sad place to land toward the end of a long life and sadder still because it never should have happened.

Marie Long had planned for her sunset years. Then a stroke placed her under the authority of Maricopa County's probate court, where she was protected right into the poorhouse.

After five years of fighting, Marie in December got some of her money back from the lawyers and fiduciaries charged with protecting her though not in time to make a difference in her life.
Marie died on April 22, at age 92.

"She was able to pass knowing all the hard work of others paid off – that gave her much joy," her niece, Kim Raynak, told me. "She actually did a fist pump in the air when we told her of the win."

Marie and her husband, Cliff, planned for their old age, knowing they'd be alone. Their daughter, Patsy, died of cancer at 16. Their son, Bobby, was 20 when he was killed in Vietnam. When Cliff died in 2003, he left Marie in solid financial shape.

She had $1.3 million in assets in 2005, when she suffered a stroke. After a family dispute over where she would live, Marie wound up in probate court, where lawyers and fiduciaries help vulnerable people and sometimes they help themselves, too, to a tidy pile of cash, unless a judge stops it.
Marie's judge didn't stop it and so she was paying $106 for hearing-aid batteries and $50-an-hour for someone to open her mail and $19 to reply to her request for new shoes.

By 2009, she was broke and moved to nursing home for indigents, though her family eventually was able to move her to a nicer place once her money dried up and her for-profit guardian promptly bailed.

Marie's lawyers, Jon Kitchel and Patricia Gitre, worked for free for years, trying to stop the bleeding and then to get some of her money back.

But a probate judge ruled that the attorneys and fiduciaries were justified in helping themselves to more than $1 million of Marie's money and the Supreme Court left the bulk of the judge's ruling intact.

The December settlement brought enough so that Marie would be able to live out her life comfortably. Sadly, she never got the chance to enjoy it.

She did, however, get the chance to change things. As a result of what happened to Marie, laws were changed and reforms were enacted in the hope of better protecting the Maries among us.

"We now have some of the tools that ought to help us prevent another Marie Long case," Kitchel told me. "My optimism is tempered because I know that the tools we had during Marie's case should have been enough."

Marie Long didn't get to fully enjoy her final years as she should have and that is such a shame. But the sweet old lady who spoke so softly was, at least, heard.

"I would like," she once whispered to me, "that this doesn't happen to anybody else."

Probate Victim Spoke Softly But Was Heard

See Also:
CBS: Guardianship Company Cost Woman Dearly

READ the GAO report:  Guardianships:  Cases of Financial Exploitation, Abuse and Neglect of Seniors

NASGA's "An Open Letter to Congress and the White House

United States: Trustees Of Supplemental Needs Trusts: Do Not Take Your Duty Lightly

If Trustees of Supplemental Needs Trusts were not aware of their enhanced duty to the disabled beneficiary of these types of trusts, after Matter of J.P. Morgan Chase, they should be.  A Supplemental Needs Trust is a trust that is funded with the assets of a third party for the benefit of a disabled individual.  A Special Needs Trust, on the other hand, is a trust that is funded with the disabled individual's own assets.  Both types of trusts are carefully drafted such that the distribution powers of the Trustees do not disqualify the disabled individual from means-tested government benefit programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

In Matter of J.P. Morgan Chase, J.P. Morgan Chase and an experienced estate planning attorney, the Trustees of a Supplemental Needs Trust for the benefit of a autistic man, filed an interim account for this $2.7 million trust.  The Trustees claimed combined commissions of over $52,000, yet they didn't visit or inquire about the disabled beneficiary's needs for over 3 years or spend a single dollar for his benefit during such time.  The bank, as somewhat of an excuse, claimed that it lacked the institutional capacity to meet the needs of the disabled beneficiary.  Due to this lack of care, the New York County Surrogate's Court, in denying the Trustees' commission for the period, stated that the Trustees had a fiduciary obligation to be proactive "in keeping abreast of the beneficiary's condition, needs, and quality of life, and to utilize trust assets for his actual benefit."

This case serves a reminder that Trustees of a Supplemental Needs Trust, whether an individual or corporate Trustee, must pay special attention to needs of the disabled beneficiary and, if they are not suited to do so, then they should either hire an agent that can handle the responsibility, or resign.  In other words, "Don't bite off more than you can chew."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Full Article & Source: 
United States: Trustees Of Supplemental Needs Trusts: Do Not Take Your Duty Lightly

Ex-Gethsemani accountant indicted on $1M theft charge

The former accountant for the Abbey of Gethsemani was indicted Wednesday for allegedly stealing more than $1 million from the monastery, according to Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Terry Geoghegan.

A grand jury returned an indictment accusing John E. Hutchins and his wife Carrie of 87 counts of theft – 40 of them for allegedly taking over $10,000.

The money was allegedly siphoned from the abbey's mail order business from 2008 through February.

The indictment does not mention Hutchins' claims that he was fired for disclosing alleged sexual misconduct at the monastery, but it says the thefts began long before the misconduct he has cited.
The abbey's lawyer, Kevin Ford, said this week that were was no connection between the accusations against Hutchins and information he presented to the abbey's leaders.

Arraignment was set for May 26, according to Geoghegan, who said the couple's lawyer, Luke Morgan, has promised his clients will surrender that day in court.

Hutchins and his wife also were charged with 87 counts of unlawful access to a computer.
The indictment says that the 47 thefts were between $500 and $10,000 and the balance over that amount.

The total amount allegedly stolen was $1,060,000.

The monks became suspicious after examining one check for $20,000, and Hutchins was suspended with pay Feb. 17.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-Gethsemani accountant indicted on $1M theft charge

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Florida's Guardians Often Exploit

by Carlo Giambarressi
Lacy Waters lay on a hospital gurney, her head a hornet's nest of pain and confusion. Between the brain parasites and the drugs designed to kill them, she could hardly think — let alone answer questions. Yet that was exactly what the strangers at her bedside now demanded. As the 45-year-old Nicaraguan maid with a grade-school education desperately tried to recall the names of American presidents, the three men made careful notes on their clipboards.

These men weren't her doctors, however. Instead, they had been sent by a Miami-Dade judge at the behest of Royal Caribbean — the very company Lacy blamed for her sickness.

Three years earlier, in 2005, Lacy had left Central America to work on a cruise ship. The job was supposed to be a ticket to a better life for her and her ten children. Instead, it had nearly killed her. Tapeworms — contracted from tainted pork served aboard the ship, she says — had infested her brain. Lacy was now fighting for her life. Little did she know that her visitors had just taken it from her with the stroke of a pen.

Lacy doesn't remember her visitors, but she has been suffering from their decision ever since. Based upon their 15-minute evaluation, the judge declared Lacy a ward of the state. She was instantly stripped of her most basic rights. A woman Lacy had never met was appointed her "guardian" and given control over every aspect of her life, from her medical treatment to whether she could marry the man she loved. Most important: The guardian was also in charge of her assets and finances, including Lacy's ongoing lawsuit against Royal Caribbean.

It would be five years before Lacy would win back her rights. By then, the ordeal cost her more than just her freedom. She would also lose more than $250,000.

"All I could do was cry. I was powerless," Lacy says. "Thank God I got out of it."

Despite her travails, Lacy was actually lucky. Few of the roughly 50,000 Floridians inside the state's guardianship system ever escape. And for some, losing their rights is just the beginning. In cases of abuse, they are isolated from families, overmedicated, and physically neglected while guardians bleed their accounts.

Dr. Sam Sugar is a retired physician who went through his own guardianship horror story before his mother-in-law died. He has since started an organization called Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship.

Miami-Dade's guardianship system is particularly corrupt, he says. "This group of court rats that hangs around the judge asking for guardianships are the same people who contribute to his campaign," he says.

Full Article and Source:
Florida's Guardians Often Exploit the Vulnerable Residents They're Supposed to Protect

Why Everyone Should Care About Guardianship Abuse

New Times cover stories usually need no introduction. They are often straightforward profiles of the insane characters cluttering South Florida:  a murderous male porn star, an internet Lolita, or a washed up professional football player now obsessed with orca whales.

This week's feature is a bit different, however. Yes, there are kidnappings, accusations of fraud, and brain-eating tapeworms, but it is, at heart, an investigation into something most Floridians have never heard of: guardianship abuse.

So here are a few reasons why you should care about the issue, starting with the fact that you, too, could catch a deadly parasite from uncooked pork and wake up in a hospital without any legal rights.

That's exactly what happened to the story's main character, Lacy Waters. The Nicaraguan mother of ten was working on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship when she was stricken with brain-eating tapeworms.

She nearly died before an American lawyer brought her to Miami for treatment. But while she was in the hospital, Royal Caribbean petitioned a Miami probate judge to have Lacy's rights removed. She was placed under the care of a professional "guardian": someone paid out of Lacy's own pocket to run her life for her.

Suddenly, Lacy wasn't allowed to decide for herself where to live, what medicine to take, even who she could marry.

Roughly 50,000 Floridians are currently in such guardianships. Many are elderly people who have been deemed "incapacitated" by a court due to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or dementia.

But Lacy's case shows that guardianship can affect anyone. She was just 46 when her ordeal began. In another case examined by New Times, a 2-year-old girl was placed into a guardianship after falling and hitting her head.

Illustration by Carlo Giambarresi
As people live longer, the age of the average American is increasing. This "graying of America" is particularly acute here in Florida, now the country's grayest state. Chances are that you, a family member, or a friend will one day have to deal with a guardianship case.

It's no surprise, therefore, that guardianship is a big industry here in South Florida. Professional guardians can make millions off of their wards. Yet, some counties do almost nothing to monitor the practice.

In the past three years, Palm Beach County has caught more than $3 million in guardianship fraud. But Miami-Dade, with 2.5 times as many cases, has yet to crack down on the issue. Statewide, hundreds of millions of dollars are at risk.

Full Article and Source:
Why You Should Care About Guardianship Abuse

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New Lawsuit Filed Against Nevada "Guardians" Patience Bristol and Jared E. Shafer

On October 3, 2013, the State of Nevada issued a 21 count felony arrest warrant for Patience M. Bristol who was employed at Jared E. Shafer's Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc.   (PFSN, Inc.) for over ten years during which time she admitted to stealing the assets of elderly and disabled "wards" Shafer had assigned to her for guardianship.

Following her arrest, Bristol was jailed for three months until she negotiated a plea bargain with Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson who in exchange for guilty plea dropped 20 of the 21 felony charges against her. Bristol was released on her own recognizance on January 30, 2013.

Bristol's boss Jared Shafer has not yet been charged with any crime. Shafer has not responded to numerous requests to tell his side of the story.

More information about Shafer is included on the latest complaint.
On May 22, 2013, attorneys for Kristina Berger accused Jared Shafer in open court of participating in the pilferage of over $500,000.00 of Berger's assets. In response, Shafer startled court observers by ordering Clark County Guardianship Commissioner to 'Close the courtroom," assuming the video recording of the proceeding would cease. The judge obediently agreed to close the court and have all spectators escorted out by the bailiff.

WATCH the amazing video record

READ the full complaint filed by Kristina Berger

Jared Shafer's PFSN, Inc. continues to be allowed to act as legal guardian to dozens of wealthy elderly and disabled clients. 

Steve Miller's storiesin

See Also:
Nevada Guardian Patience Bristol Arraigned on Robbery Charges

Former Public Guardian

Guardian Jared Shafer's Public Signs Become a Public Nuisance

Elder abuse: Central New York lawmakers propose bills to protect seniors

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Seniors in New York would have more protections against financial and physical abuse under proposed legislation in Albany, according to lawmakers.

The proposed laws would allow banks to refuse transactions and prosecutors more easily to obtain medical records when elder abuse is suspected, according to Sens. David Valesky, D-Oneida, and Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, and other sponsors of the bills.

The proposals also would give prosecutors more tools to go after perpetrators, such as changes that would make it easier for older people to testify in criminal cases. And it would widen the definition of caregiver to allow for more people to be subject to the current law of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person.

The proposals wouldn't make elder abuse, per se, a crime. But they would enhance protections already in place to punish people who take advantage of seniors who sometimes become more vulnerable to abuse because of physical or mental conditions, according to the lawmakers.

The legislation would also require the state to stand up a centralized collection system of reports of elder abuse. Currently, incidents of financial, emotional or physical abuse of seniors are reported at various health, social services, law enforcement or other agencies throughout the state.

Using that array of reports, data shows 3 out of every 1,000 New York senior suffers some kind of elder abuse. But a study by Cornell University and others in 2011 found the incident rate much higher when including self-reported cases from seniors and information from agencies serving seniors.

That study estimated as many as 76 out of 1,000 seniors suffer physical, emotional or financial abuse in New York. The study also found that 90 percent elder abuse was caused by a family member.

The proposed legislation would also make it easier to prosecute contractors for partial work when payment in full is made. This change would include victims of any age.

Here's a summary of the bills:

S.6221 (Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida) authorizes banks to refuse any transaction of moneys if the banking institution, social services official, or law enforcement agency
reasonably believes that financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult has
occurred or may occur.

S.2323-A (Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx) requires the Office of Children and Family Services to define, identify and collect data related to the incidence of elder abuse possessed by state and local agencies. It also mandates the Office of Children and Family Services to establish an inter-agency reporting system that contains a uniform set of standards to collect and analyze information on the incidence of elder abuse.

S.7179 (Valesky) proposes to allow a prosecutor to obtain medical records, without a privilege waiver, with a subpoena, endorsed by the court, based upon a showing that the patient suffers from a mental disability, and that the patient has been a victim of a crime.

S.7177 (Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma) seeks to establish that an alleged abuser may not use the defense of obtained consent to take, withhold, or obtain property, where such consent was obtained from a person who the accused knew or had reason to know was mentally disabled.

S.7187 (Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette) amends the penal law to explicitly state that in a prosecution for larceny by false promise, partial performance does not, by itself, prevent a reasonable jury from making such finding from all the facts and circumstances.

S.2951 (Valesky) expands the definition of "caregiver" under the penal law to include a person who voluntarily, or otherwise by operation of law, (such as an appointed guardian or power of attorney) assumes responsibility of an elderly person so that they would be tried under the "endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person" law.

S.7188 (Nozzolio) would allow a caregiver to accompany a vulnerable elderly person who is testifying in front of a grand jury. The caregiver may only fulfill their function with the consent of the prosecutor.

S.7178 (Gallivan) allows the prosecution and defense attorneys to preserve the testimony of witnesses who are age 75 or older.

Full Article & Source:
Elder abuse: Central New York lawmakers propose bills to protect seniors

Child euthanasia claims probed

Health officials are investigating claims that terminally ill children have been illegally euthanised by British doctors.

An official investigation has been launched by the Department of Health into the allegations, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

In February retired GP Michael Irwin claimed that medics have given sick children overdoses with painkillers.

At the time Mr Hunt said he would look into the issue and now he has confirmed that the Department of Health is investigating.

After being asked about the issue on LBC Radio, Mr Hunt said: "An investigation is now under way by my department.

"The police are not involved at the moment.

"I'm afraid I am not in a position to comment because it is highly sensitive."

Euthanasia is illegal in Britain but legal in other countries. In February Belgium became the first country in the world to allow the euthanasia of children.

Full Article & Source:
Child euthanasia claims probed

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Justina Pelletier to be Moved to Facility in Connecticut

Justina Pelletier, the sick teen who for the past year has been in state custody under psychiatric care at Boston Children's Hospital, will be moved to a therapeutic facility in Connecticut.

Her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier of West Hartford, Conn., have waged an angry and highly publicized custody battle for their 15-year-old and continue to fight the state Only allowed weekly supervised visits, they say their daughter was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by a top doctor at Tufts Medical Center and her condition has deteriorated for lack of proper medical treatment.

They also allege Justina has been “abused and sexually harassed” at the DCF facility where she is being treated.“We are very disappointed,”

Lou Pelletier told “There is no end game here and this could drag on with the Massachusetts DCF for months. They are still in charge and controlling this. This is unacceptable.”

 “She is our daughter – this is enough,” he said. “Stop the torture and inhumane treatment of her – and never mind what this has done to our family.”

Pelletier has also pledged to continue a civil rights lawsuit and an emergency appeal in the juvenile appellate court, both underway.

Full Article and Source:
Justina Pelletier Goes Home to Connecticut After a Year in Psyche Hospital

Unlicensed care homes growing problem

What do Americans do with elderly family members who can no longer care for themselves? A surprising high number discard them just like they do rubbish. An ugly and often unrecorded fact is that some people ditch their elderly relatives in order to quickly and quietly bleed off and pocket their last remaining assets as the elderly suffer unmentionable torment.

Many relatives responsibly care for elderly loved ones, but some are grossly irresponsible or even criminal. There are people who open their homes, wallets, and rearrange their schedule to tackle the task with love and lots of patience. Others are physically, emotionally, or financially unable to provide needed care. Yet many are simply unconcerned, unwilling, or unloving. Regardless, all seniors need adequate care solutions where they can spend their final declining years.

Nearly 5 million seniors are victims of elder abuse and robbed of up to $3 billion annually. Unlicensed care homes thrive because of abusive family members, but also the countless number of predators in our society who receive great pleasure in taking advantage of anyone. Some unlicensed care homes may provide adequate care for their vulnerable clients; yet others gruesomely abuse and rob their clients. A few have similarities to the Nazi concentration camps of the 1940s.

While the state provides health and safety standards for licensing personal care homes, unlicensed care homes remain without critically needed oversight. Research indicates that unlicensed care homes may cost less, but the quality of care often declines with the reduced cost.

It is very difficult for state, county and local officials to locate, inspect, and shut down unlicensed care homes because some use varying names and offer varying services in order to skirt the law. The most despicable unlicensed facility operator might hang sheets from the ceiling to partition off a single room in order to sleep 6, 8, 10, or more elderly clients, some on the floor.

One unlicensed Florida care facility fed residents frozen dinners that cost 88 cents each. The operator of that facility tied one elderly resident to a chair, claiming it was necessary because the elderly resident might fall as a result of recent hip surgery.

A Michigan township discovered an unlicensed care home after responding to a fire in a 1,500 square-foot house. Firefighters found four elderly women burned in their beds and the remains of another located on the floor under the kitchen table where she slept. The house had no smoke alarms or sprinklers.

Full Article & Source:
Unlicensed care homes growing problem

Mentally Ill Men Allege 'Shocking' Isolation in Mass. Prison Hospital Lawsuit

Three men who were involuntarily committed to a Massachusetts prison for the mentally ill have filed a class-action suit on behalf of 150 other inmates against two state officials, alleging that they were subjected to harsh conditions of confinement that would “shock the conscience of a reasonable person.”

The three plaintiffs in the case have never been convicted of a crime, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that Bridgewater State Hospital systematically confines inmates for weeks and even months in solitary confinement without reading materials, exercise or “virtually any contact with human beings.”

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Norfolk Superior Court against Department of Correction Commissioner Luis Spencer and Department of Mental Health Commissioner Marcia Fowler, alleging that prolonged isolation is a violation of state law. Also named in the lawsuit are Robert Murphy, superintendent of Bridgewater State, the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) officials told today, “We are reviewing the complaint closely.”

“While we cannot comment on specific patients, we can say that the use of seclusion and restraint at Bridgewater State Hospital is a clinical decision and one we view as a measure of last resort,” said Darren Duarte, a spokesman for the DOC, which operates Bridgewater State. “These clinical decisions are based on each individual’s specific mental health treatment needs.”

Full Article & Source:
Mentally Ill Men Allege 'Shocking' Isolation in Mass. Prison Hospital Lawsuit

Monday, May 5, 2014

Funding sought for new conservator agency

(Photo credit: George Walker IV / The Tennessean )
Davidson Probate Judge David “Randy” Kennedy says he’s confident Metro Council will approve a proposal to create a new publicly funded office of public guardian, the first of its kind in Tennessee, to increase accountability in providing services to those unable to look out for themselves.

Kennedy made the comment Thursday, the day after Mayor Karl Dean proposed the new office as part of his budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The proposal, which tracks the recommendations of a task force Kennedy appointed, would staff the new office with a full-time public guardian and an accountant. He proposed funding of a little less than $200,000.

“We are confident,” Kennedy wrote, “that members of the council, many of whom have already voiced their support for this funding, will approve the mayor’s request.”

Former Metro public guardian Jeanan Stuart resigned under fire in late May 2013 amid questions about the fees she charged. She resigned the same day Kennedy announced he would no longer appoint her.

Stuart’s position was funded not by Metro but by fees she charged to those she was court-appointed to oversee. She was required to file periodic reports to the court.

In a series of stories, The Tennessean detailed how wards were charged up to $225 an hour to be taken on shopping trips or to attend a concert. Dean cited those articles in his speech.

In proposing the new office, Dean noted that Nashville’s array of advanced health-care facilities draws a large share of those who need protection.

“Due to our aging population, we expect the number of people in need of court intervention, as a result of disability, to grow dramatically,” Dean said.

Full Article & Source:
Funding sought for new conservator agency

See Also:
Ginger Franklin's Car Towed and Sold While in Conservator, Jeanan Mills Stuart's 'Care'

Ginger Franklin, Tennessee Victim

Tennessee Public Guardian, Jeanan Mills Stuart's Fees Exceed $1.8 Million

TN:  Conservator Jeanan Mills Stuart and Judge Randy Kennedy

Jeanan Stuart Response to Questions

Disbarred attorney accused of stealing from probate clients

Eleanor "Dorothy'' Thomas of Tempe lived a good, long life as a minister's wife. She taught high-school English, helped others, loved dogs and always was ready to debate politics until she died last summer at age 94.

But court records and Thomas' confidants point to one major mistake she might have made in her life — hiring Rodney M. Matheson, a now-disbarred Queen Creek probate attorney, to handle her estate.

About $1.2 million of Thomas' estate was supposed to go to a University of Arizona cancer research fund in memory of Dorothy and her late husband, David. But the money never was paid to the ­University of Arizona Foundation, according to court records.

Matheson, 69, was disbarred in September 2013 and arrested by Gilbert police in February. He is charged with two counts of fraudulent schemes and two counts of theft, with investigators accusing him of misappropriating as much as $6 million.

Prosecutors accused Matheson of orchestrating an elaborate shell game by taking money from two estates to satisfy a court order for payment of $800,000 to the Mayo Clinic, the major beneficiary of a third estate, according to court documents.

Lawyers are fighting in the courts for repayment of funds to the proper beneficiaries, if the money can be located. And Lee Stein, Matheson's new criminal attorney, has received more time to evaluate the complicated case and challenge his indictment.

Stein said it would be inappropriate to comment while a criminal case is pending.

Full Article & Source:
Disbarred attorney accused of stealing from probate clients

Court Appoints Attorney for Paul Walker's Daughter

A judge appointed an independent attorney for Paul Walker's daughter Wednesday to help determine who will raise the teenager in the wake of her father's death last year.

Superior Court Commissioner David Cowan refused to dismiss a guardianship case, citing an investigator's report that detailed issues with Meadow Rain Walker's mother having custody of the 15-year-old. The report is confidential and Cowan did not elaborate on the issues contained in the report.

Paul Walker, the star of the "Fast & Furious" film franchise, died in a car crash in November. His will called for his mother, Cheryl Ann Walker, to serve as guardian of his daughter, but she later asked for her petition to be dismissed. Attorneys said Wednesday that she had reached an agreement with Meadow Walker's mother, Rebecca Jo Soteros, on who will care for her, but Cowan said he wasn't comfortable with dismissing the case yet.

He said Soteros was not in a position to take custody of her daughter "given where she's living at this time." He did not elaborate, but Cheryl Walker's guardianship petition said Soteros had an alcohol problem.

"Meadow would still need to have a guardian," Cowan said. The teenage was in court but did not speak.

Soteros has hired an attorney to object to Cheryl Walker's petition, but a formal objection has not been filed.

Cowan said he would decide what to do with the case once he reviews a report prepared by Meadow Walker's court-appointed attorney. He set another hearing in the case for May 28.

Full Article & Source:
Court Appoints Attorney for Paul Walker's Daughter

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Caution! Predators at Wrok - Professional Guardians in America

Join us this evening as Barbara Stone joins the show with her questions:
1.  What can really be done to address the abuse perpetrated by professional fiduciary's via probate courts?
2.  Can we end the death grip of the BAR Association not only on our courts, but also end the BAR's writing of statutes and laws which clearly exempt them from any accountability while simultaneously profiting them immensely?
3. Can we force the dissolving of "administrative courts" which are neither Constitutional, nor adhering to the actual law?
4.  How can we turn advocates into activists?
5.  What will it take to form an actual united front against the elder cleansing and human trafficking for profit that appears to be sanctioned at all levels of government?

This should be a good one!  We will take calls after the first hour!

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST7:00 pm CST 8:00 pm EST
LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

Guardian Jared Shafer's Political Signs Become a Public Nuisance

Over three dozen A-frame political signs rented or donated to politicians by Jared Shafer’s PFSN Inc., have become shelters for vagrants.

A homeowner who called police to report that a homeless camp utilizing several of the A-frames had popped up in his neighborhood, reported that the responding officer said “We’re told to back off.”

Shafer illegally commingles funds from a company known as Signs of Nevada, LLC, with funds from his “wards” in his PFSN, Inc. bank account. Commingling of ward’s funds is a violation of NRS 159.073 (III) (IV), but has never been enforced by elected officials who have used Shafer’s signs in their campaigns.

The A-frame portable billboards are officially owned by two of Shafer’s closest associates, guardianship attorneys Patricia Trent and Elyse Tyrell, who often represent Shafer in Family Court disputes. Shafer’s PFSN office manager/secretary/bookkeeper, Amy Deittrick, is listed as the sign company’s manager by the Secretary of State, which also lists Shafer’s fiduciary business address as that of the sign company.

Sign companies such as Shafer’s have the ability to make or break a judicial campaign by discounting or donating the 8’ by 12’ movable political signs to certain Judge, DA, and Attorney General candidates during election season. The majority of Trent and Tyrell’s signs now appearing during this election season contain ads for Family Court and District Court incumbent Judges, selected candidates seeking to fill court vacancies, or attorneys wanting to replace less cooperative Judges.

Sources say that Shafer is the go-to guy when it comes to cheap political billboards - a sure fire way to endear himself to those with power over the lives and fortunes of his hapless wards and their heirs, and that is why many of his critics believe he has escaped being investigated or prosecuted locally for dozens of complaints of exploiting the elderly.

One of Shafer’s long time associates Patience Bristol on December 30, 2013 plead guilty to felony exploitation of the elderly. She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 28 in the Clark County District Court of Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.

Guardian Jared Shafer's Political Signs Become a Public Nuisance

Embattled Family Court Judge Steven Jones headed back to public payroll

Family Court Judge Steven Jones is going back on the payroll of the taxpayers.

His three-month suspension without pay over his mishandling of a romantic relationship with the late former prosecutor Lisa Willardson ends Friday, which means the judge is again eligible to receive his $200,000 salary until his term expires at the end of the year.

Jones, who is not running for re-election, now goes back to being suspended with pay as a result of his federal investment fraud indictment.

The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline suspended Jones without pay Feb. 3 for three months after finding that he had violated professional rules of conduct by carrying on the relationship with Willardson when she appeared before him in 2011 as a deputy district attorney.

Willardson was found dead at her Henderson home Dec. 26, and the coroner later concluded she died of an accidental drug overdose.

Jones got a break from the judicial commission this week when it gave him an additional 90 days to respond to another misconduct complaint.

Attorney James Jimmerson, who had been representing Jones in his fight with the commission, has withdrawn as his lawyer, and his new attorney Sigal Chattah needed more time to get familiar with the case, according to Paul Deyhle, the commission’s executive director.

The second misconduct case, launched in 2006, includes allegations Jones was involved in several investment schemes, associated with felons, improperly handled drug evidence and once had an “intimate relationship” with a law student who worked for him.

Jones is set to stand trial in the federal case next month, but defense lawyers are moving for another continuance.

At a status check in the case Thursday, lawyers for the other defendants charged with Jones told U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. that they are not prepared to go to trial June 3 because they are still poring through the mass of evidence the government turned over in the case. Foley gave the lawyers until Monday to file a new motion to continue the trial.

The judge’s defense lawyer in the federal case, Robert Draskovich, said he opposes another trial delay.

Jones and the five other defendants, including his former brother-in-law Thomas Cecrle, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Las Vegas in October 2012 in what authorities said was a $3 million investment scheme from 2002 to 2012.

In the indictment, prosecutors alleged Jones used the power of his office to further the investment scheme and intervened on Cecrle’s behalf to prevent or delay legal processes against him.

Earlier this month prosecutors said they have evidence that Jones “used his position and influence” as a judge twice in 2006 to get Cecrle released on his own recognizance in a felony bad check case, though local prosecutors had asked that he be kept in jail on no bail.

Freeing Cecrle allowed the decade-long investment scheme involving the judge to move forward, prosecutors alleged.

Full Article & Source:
Embattled Family Court Judge Steven Jones headed back to public payroll

See Also:
Judge Steven Jones' romance allegations to come before panel

Family Court judge to face disciplinary hearing in December

Judge Jones tries to stop discipline hearing over alleged mishandled relationship